Amazon settles non-compete lawsuit involving AWS sales exec who joined Google Cloud

Amazon settled a lawsuit involving a former Amazon Web Services sales executive who joined rival Google Cloud last year.

Amazon sued Philip Moyer in July after he left the company to join Google. In its lawsuit, the tech giant argued Moyer’s move to Google would “threaten the disclosure of Amazon’s highly confidential information,” in an alleged breach of his non-compete agreement.

Moyer’s new role as vice president of sales for healthcare and life sciences for Google Cloud didn’t violate the non-compete agreement with Amazon because he works with a completely different customer base, his legal team argued.

This past October, a federal judge placed major limitations on his Moyer’s role while also criticizing Amazon’s non-compete policies. Moyer was not allowed to work on any financial services projects, his area of expertise at AWS, for Google Cloud. He was also barred from contacting any AWS customers and any potential financial services customers. The conditions were to stay in place until the lawsuit was fully resolved, or until his non-compete expired in November 2020.

U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez dismissed the case on March 2, without an award of fees or costs to any party.

The parties aren’t required to disclose details of a settlement agreement. Amazon declined to comment on the decision.

Non-competes are a lightning rod in the tech industry, with critics claiming they stifle innovation and give an unfair advantage to big corporations. Last year, Washington state enacted legislation that makes it more difficult to enforce non-compete agreements.

The law requires employees to earn more than $100,000 per year for a non-compete to apply and the agreement can’t extend longer than 18 months. Amazon lobbied to have the salary threshold lowered.

Washington state law allows the court to “reform” a non-compete agreement to a more limited scope. That’s what happened in the case involving Moyer.

Amazon hired Moyer in 2017. He worked at Microsoft for 15 years and served as chief executive for software-as-a-service companies Edgar Online and Cassiopae. Moyer grew dissatisfied with a lack of growth potential at Amazon, according to court documents, and two years later joined Google Cloud.

Amazon’s pioneering cloud business gave the company an early lead in an emerging and lucrative industry but competition is heating up with Microsoft and Google, particularly when it comes to talent. Google upped the ante last year when it opened a big new campus for its cloud division right next door to Amazon’s Seattle HQ.

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